Curves program raises metabolic rate in overweight women

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Eight research studies from a team of health and fitness experts at Baylor University found that sedentary and overweight women who followed the Curves program were able to significantly raise their resting energy expenditure (REE, also known as metabolic rate), in some cases by as much as 400 kcals/day. The Curves program may help redefine how women diet, lose weight and maintain weight loss, thereby reducing the need for perpetual dieting.

The series of studies were presented by Richard B. Kreider, Ph.D., FACSM, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at Baylor University to nutrition experts attending the Experimental Biology 2004 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Kreider said, “We set out to scientifically test and evaluate the theories of the Curves program. We found it to be highly effective in promoting weight loss with no adverse side effects, especially among participants who followed the high protein / low carb / low fat diet.” Kreider attributed the success of the program to the “impressive increase in REE achieved by participants.”

“Following 10 weeks of dieting and exercising to lose weight and raise their metabolic rate, study participants were able to eat as much as 2600 calories a day and maintain their weight loss during the maintenance phase. These women also lost fat, increased the proportion of muscle to body weight, gained strength, and made medically significant improvements in blood pressure, resting heart rate and aerobic fitness,” Kreider said.

Gary Heavin, founder and CEO of Curves International, commented, “With a conventional diet, typically 50 percent of weight loss is in the form of metabolically active muscle, which decreases REE and makes it even easier to regain weight while eating fewer calories. But the combination of strength training and a high protein / low carb / low fat diet actually increases REE and protects muscle, which leads to the burning of fat stores and the ability to eat a healthy amount of food.” Heavin holds a degree in Health and Nutrition Counseling and is the author of The New York Times Best-Sellers Curves: Permanent Results Without Permanent Dieting and Curves On the Go.

Kreider said, “The test group following the Curves plan lost an average of two inches from their hips and three inches from their waists, while showing a 20- to-30-percent improvement in strength and a 15 percent increase in aerobic capacity. Their blood cholesterol, resting heart rate, and resting blood pressure also improved, reducing their odds against cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women in the United States.

“More importantly, the women maintained or continued to lose weight during the maintenance phase, unlike other diets, which typically show a regain of lost weight. These data confirm that Curves’ intermittent dieting and eating approach to weight loss works. Most importantly, it’s promoting health and fitness to one of the largest populations in the country, the typical American ‘soccer mom’ who wouldn’t normally have the time or desire for conventional fitness programs. Curves’ 30 minute workout and 30 minute weight management classes combine fitness and a social support network that keep women interested and losing weight. We were very impressed that the women following the Curves program lost an average of 14 pounds in just 10 weeks – similar to the amount of weight loss previously reported after following the Atkins, Pritikin or the American Heart Association weight-loss programs for up to six months,” Kreider said.

One hundred sixty overweight, moderately obese and sedentary women participated in the 14-week trial. Using a control group to establish a baseline, the Curves diet was tested against weight reduction programs similar to the American Heart Association, a diet using a low-fat approach limited to 30 percent fat intake and the low carbohydrate and high protein approach. The studies looked at how the program affected body composition, resting energy expenditure, training adaptations, health markers such as blood lipid levels, relationship of leptin to weight loss, insulin sensitivity, quality of life, and body image. “The data showed impressive improvements in many of the markers tested. Additional studies are ongoing to look at further results of the Curves program on all aspects of quality of life,” said Kreider.

Dr. Kreider has conducted numerous studies on nutrition and exercise and has published two books, more than 300 research articles/abstracts in scientific journals, and more than 150 articles for health and fitness magazines. Dr. Kreider is a Fellow of the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) and is an active member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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